OSHA Probes Tower Painter’s Death
Federal inspectors are investigating the death of a painter who suffered a fatal fall from a water tower in the closing days of the project.
Winfred Davis, a 29-year-old father of two, was killed when he fell while working from the top of a water tower in Memorial Park in Mount Vernon, IA.
The accident happened around about 1:54 p.m. Aug. 1. Davis was an employee of Arndt Enterprises Inc. of DeWitt, IA, a subcontractor completing work on the water tower for Utility Service Company Inc. of Perry, GA, according to a statement from the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Davis died from his injuries on the scene, Mount Vernon Police Chief Mark Winder told KCRG-TV9.
Winder told the local ABC affiliate that he was unsure how Davis fell, but he said the painter had been wearing a harness and other equipment.
Arndt Enterprises did not immediately respond Tuesday (Aug. 13) to a request for comment, and emails to the company were returned as undeliverable.
Work on the 500,000-gallon water tower was scheduled to start May 30; the project included inspection, cleaning and painting, according to the city's website.
"It is your worst nightmare. You always hate to have something like that happen," Winder told KCRG-TV9.
The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection into the accident Aug. 2. Iowa operates its own state OSHA program, which covers both private-sector and state and local government employees.
Work on the water tower was nearly completed when Davis fell to his death while working for subcontractor Arndt Enterprises.
A spokesperson for Iowa OSHA said that the agency had up to six months to issue citations, and that fatality investigations normally take longer to complete.
Iowa OSHA was also unable to confirm whether the contractor, Utility Services, located in Perry, GA, was also a target of the investigation.
Arndt Enterprises provides water tower rehabilitation, petrochemical tank lining and exteriors work, tank maintenance and cleaning, industrial and floor coatings, and other services. Established in 2001, the company says it has worked on projects ranging from 50,000- to 5 million-gallon tanks.
The company had no enforcement record with OSHA before Aug. 2.
Atlanta, GA-headquartered Utility Service was the main contractor for the project. The company provides condition assessments, rehabilitation services and asset management solutions for the potable and industrial water industries. The company has no known OSHA record.